The content on this site is dedicated to the histories of fugitive slave populations who had re-settled in the Niagara region in Ontario following the passing of the anti-slavery act in 1793, up until the end of the civil war. During this period the majority of African Canadians residing in Niagara were runaways who had escaped to the north in search of liberty and freedom. The hardships faced by these people would not end with their migration as they faced harsh climates, discrimination and poverty upon arriving in Canada. Yet, many settlers ended up flourishing in the North, allowing them to create successions of influential families who would go on to share their heritage and resources with generations to come. The Shadd family, whom will be further discussed on the page titled “North Buxton” were not only able to accumulate wealth during their time in the north but additionally created a legacy of activism and civil service, beginning with brother Abraham Shadd’s work in government and later manifesting in the work of his descendants.
The second portion of the site is dedicated to the display of the photographs donated by Rick Bell to the Brock University archives and special collections. The first group of photos can be found under the “Faces of freedom” tab, displaying a series of mystery tintypes featuring unidentified African Canadians as they travelled through and settled within Ontario. The second group features the relatives and extended family of Rick Bell, who became the first African Canadian firefighter in Niagara in 1979, in addition to being the original owner of all of the photographs featured on this website. Bell’s mother had been cleaning out the attic when she came across the tintypes and family photos and had decided she wanted to throw them out. However, thankfully Rick insisted on keeping them and was kind enough to allow me to interview him on the content he had donated to the University nearly 10 years ago, which can be found under the tab “A family through the years”.